ROTARY ROUND-UP: Rotary supports young people working to address refugee problems

Katie De Rosa (left) and Nikki Ostrand (right) with West Worthing Rotary president Sue Virgo
Katie De Rosa (left) and Nikki Ostrand (right) with West Worthing Rotary president Sue Virgo

This week, David Chapman, from the Rotary Club of West Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.

West Worthing Rotary had the pleasure of welcoming two Rotary Global Scholars, who spoke of their experiences, at a recent meeting of the club.

Katie De Rosa and Nikki Ostrand are both from Canada and are studying at Sussex University.

They are funded by the Rotary Global Scholars scheme which aims to promote international understanding and help improve quality of life by supporting graduate students to further their studies abroad in key areas which address poverty, health and conflict resolution.

It was very interesting listening to Katie and Nikki talking about their experiences and how, through their studies, they have been able to put into practice the skills they have gained from promoting human rights issues to reporting on the plight of refugees and immigrants.

Katie is from Niagara Falls in Canada, with Greek/Italian descendants.

She started out on a career in journalism and was lucky to get an internship at the National Post and went on to win a $25,000 scholarship following her reports on boat migration.

While in Canada Katie also set up Victoria Street Soccer, a non-profit soccer team for street people.

Katie travelled throughout Australia and Thailand to learn more about Australia’s mandatory-detention policy and talk to refugees, in an effort to understand why they would pay such large amounts of money to human traffickers and risk their lives travelling in such over crowded, small and unseaworthy boats.

She travelled to Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory where hundreds of people arrive each month and where all refugees are initially held in one of two detention centres.

Katie recently volunteered in Calais talking to refugees, NGO groups and people on the ground.

She saw the tents, the lack of running water and experienced the freezing damp conditions that the people had to endure.

She has been working with Breaking Barriers, a London charity that helps refugees to find work.

Many of the refugees have trades but are unable to find employment in their field having to rely on the state for assistance.

They feel ashamed at not being able to make their own way in life.

Nikki is originally from Wisconsin in Canada and has Italian/Swedish descendants.

Nikki came to Sussex University in September to read for a doctorate in migration and refugee studies, having gained her masters in human rights in Thailand.

Nikki first left Canada in 2006 to volunteer in a school in Tanzania.

She then moved on to Guatemala, Uganda and Thailand where she has worked with women in rural communities, teaching sewing that enables the women to have a stable income.

This allows them to provide education for their children.

Nikki herself sponsors three particular children and one of the girls she sponsors is going on to engineering school – the first person in her family to go to college.

Gaining an education will enable her to support her family.

Nikki volunteered in India teaching English to refugees and she also spent six months in New York at the Centre for Migration.

Nikki is committed to promoting the human rights and dignity of refugees and immigrants.

Sue Virgo, president of West Worthing Rotary Club said: “These global grants enable young people to raise awareness of humanitarian issues while learning skills to become future leaders in their field of expertise. We wish them every success in all their future ventures.”

Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:

• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 262222.

• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.

• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 01903 234957.

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